history of da beach

Submitted photo

An artist rendition of what Town Beach may have looked like in the early 20th Century. 


NARRAGANSETT – This month, the Narragansett Historical Society would like to take you back to a time of barbershop quartets and parasols, film cameras and Ford Model Ts, when a local summer staple was first garnering its reputation of beauty and relaxation. The event, “History of the Beach,” will take place at Narragansett Town Beach and will feature sketches, stories, displays and photographs of the beach and the surrounding pier dating back to the mid-19th century. As a part of the town’s Gansett Days celebration running Sept. 13 to 15, the event is free and open to the public. 

“We are recreating the wonders of yesteryear with a barbershop quartet, sketches, stories, great displays, and Ye Olde Time Photographers information,” a press release from Narragansett Historical Society detailing the event schedule reads. “Narragansett was the most photographed town in the U.S. around the turn of the century. We’ll also have light refreshments courtesy of Belmont Market and much more.  History comes alive in a very lively way during this event.” 

“History of the Beach” attendees can expect to view informational displays, photographs, drawings and renderings, and listen to stories and tales of the early days of one of the country’s most treasured public beaches. Further adding to the nostalgic atmosphere will be a live barbershop quartet singing tunes from yesteryear and old-time beach music played throughout the North Beach Clubhouse during the event. 

In its release announcing “History of the Beach,” the Narragansett Historical Society makes note of what drew people to Narragansett Town Beach more than a century ago, with portions of the description still ringing true today. Quoting from an article published in Harper’s Weekly, an American political magazine, in 1906 by writer Brander Matthews, it becomes clear why the local beach is such a treasure. 

“It is the beach which is the center of life at Narragansett,” wrote Matthews. “Its reason for existence, its title to supremacy, the splendid beach, a mile long, with its firm sand, with its freedom from seaweed, its gently shelving slope, and with its surf, rolling superbly from the ocean...”

The upcoming event will serve as Narragansett Historical Society’s contribution to Gansett Days, a town-wide celebration of all things Narragansett occurring Sept. 13-15. Please check the Narragansett Times next week for a full rundown of all Gansett Days events.

“History of the Beach” happens at the North Beach Clubhouse, 79 Boston Neck Road (Route 1A), in Narragansett on Sept. 15 from 4 to 5 p.m. Doors open at 3:45 p.m. and attendees are welcome to stay past event time to socialize, browse displays and enjoy the atmosphere. While attendance is free, space is limited and thus registration is required. Interested parties can register for “History of the Beach” by going to narragansetthistoricalsociety.com and navigating to the “Event Sign-Up” tab or via email to nhs1888@aol.com. Ramp access to the North Beach Clubhouse is available.





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